Education reforms are often a General Assembly battleground, but this year changes to the state's Standards of Learning appear to have broad support.
Governor Terry McAuliffe and House Republican leaders are both calling for fewer SOL tests.
McAuliffe addressed the issue in his speech to lawmakers Monday night. “I am optimistic that we can reform the SOLs in a way that maintains our high education standards, while encouraging innovation and creativity in the classroom,” McAuliffe said during an address to a joint session of the General Assembly.
House Republicans are also making SOL reforms a key element of their education agenda.
“We've got SOLs, 34 of them. We've got end-of-year tests. We've got mid-year tests. We've got final exams. We've got AP tests. We've got ACTs and SATs. We've got PSATs. I think we're good. We've got a lot of tests,” said Tag Greason, a Republican Delegate from Loudon County.
GOP leaders want to focus on reading and math in the elementary grades, and reduce the number of SOL tests from 34 to 26.
The group that represents thousands of Virginia teachers agrees it's a good idea.
“We're hoping that this opportunity isn't missed to actually see some reform to the SOL testing,” said Dominic Melito of the Virginia Education Association. “Any time we have such a consensus to reduce the number of SOL tests, I think we've really got to capitalize on that opportunity.”
Other reforms will be trickier.
Republicans also want SOL tests to focus less on multiple choice questions and more on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
How those decisions are made, and who has a seat at the table, will decide if other reforms find widespread support.